Dallas Cowboys: Head Coach Jason Garrett Is The Right Kind Of Guy


Since taking over as head coach for the Dallas Cowboys mid-season in 2010, Jason Garrett has been able to help shape a team that could be a real championship contender this year and beyond. He has a 41-31 regular season record to this point, including a 12-4 campaign last season, when the team was one or two key plays away from an NFC Championship appearance.

Having had the pleasure of meeting Coach Garrett at a fundraiser in April, I found him to be exceptionally gracious and kind, with a quick and genuine smile. He oozes confidence and poise in person. It’s no surprise that he has garnered the respect of the team and that of owner Jerry Jones.

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Garrett is clearly a leader, and integrity is important to him. Having watched him over the past few years, it also seems clear that he has attained his personal dream job.

He recently gave a speech at Princeton while accepting the school’s Citizen-Athlete Award. During his 23-minute talk, he spoke with grace, humility, and humor. The main topic that day? Leadership. I would encourage you to watch the video in its entirety. It’s poignant, funny, and inspiring.

Garrett made three solid points while speaking:

1. When you’re a leader, grasp the mantle of leadership.

"“If you’re in a leadership role, lead!”, Garrett stated. “My job with the Dallas Cowboys is to lead. I’m in charge of the message. I’m in charge of when we’re practicing….I’m the guy everyone’s looking to for direction.”"

As a former third-string quarterback, Garrett’s most memorable achievement was an improbable comeback victory on Thanksgiving Day at Texas Stadium in 1994 against the Green Bay Packers. It was that day that I became a fan of his, along with legions of other Cowboys followers.

“If you’re in a leadership role, lead!”

Keeping that day in mind, it’s likely an incredible feeling for him to realize that he is now leading the team 20 years later, not on the field, but from the sidelines and in the locker room and during practices.

2. The Right Guy philosophy

“The best teams I’ve been on, they have great leadership, and they have the right kind of guys on the team.”

This has become a recognizable cornerstone of Garrett’s philosophy of team building. It’s something he talks about frequently.

“The best teams I’ve been on, they have great leadership, and they have the right kind of guys on the team.”

He relayed a story about taking the team to visit the Navy Seals training facility in Coronado, California back in 2011. While watching the intense physical training, he and the coaches were struck by the physical similarity of the candidates. They were all doing basically the same thing during the drills, which included holding a rubber boat and/or large log overhead for extended periods of time.

The officers had to pick about 10% of the trainees to be Seals. Garrett finally asked how they picked the right guys.

The response was simple.

“We keep the ones who keep their arms straight.”

Every man’s arms were trembling throughout the exercise.

“The ones who are mentally tough enough, or strong enough. regardless of how tired they are, how fatigued they are, how finished they are, some how some way they mustered up enough to keep their arms straight. They never give in….the guys who keep their arms straight are the ones who are tough enough to do their job regardless of the circumstances.”

And those are the types of guys Garrett seeks for the Cowboys each year when determining the final roster.

3. Pursue excellence without having “finish line anxiety”

The coach closed his talk with two more anecdotes. One had a solid moral about savoring the people and things you enjoy in life. Essentially, the lesson was about the importance of enjoying the present. It’s best not to focus on the past, worry about the future, or concern yourself with those who have the potential to harm you in the present.

The other story was from his college days, and it spoke to the pursuit of excellence, without concern for the finish line, scoreboard, or record.

Garrett is the type of strong, character-driven coach that the Cowboys need, both now and in years ahead.

It’s been almost two decades since their last Super Bowl victory. Frankly, leaders like legendary former head coach Tom Landry are in short supply. While some may disagree, Garrett’s integrity and his character put him in a class like Landry.

Hopefully, this type of leadership by example will continue to pay dividends for the organization and for their fans.

Keep up the good work, Mr. Garrett. Thank you for setting the bar high.

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